Looking to build your library of solo music? Instead of buying pieces individually, consider purchasing collections of horn solos with piano accompaniment. These are a great way to obtain many of the major solo works, as well as some nice shorter pieces to include on recitals. Collections are great for teachers too because they give students some flexibility in choosing repertoire while remaining within certain limits as far as difficulty, range, etc. For example, rather than suggesting one particular work, a teacher can instead ask a student to pick one or more solos from a collection. See the descriptions below for some of my favorites. Additional details are included where appropriate.
Solos for the Horn Player, Selected and Edited by Mason Jones, G. Schirmer, 1962. No more need be said about this collection of original and arranged works. It is a must-have for every serious hornist’s library. Also check out Gregory Miller’s excellent recording of all of the pieces.
First Solos for the Horn Player, Transcribed and Arranged for Horn and Piano by Mason Jones, G. Schirmer, 1971. This collection isn’t as well known as the earlier one listed above, but it is also a great buy, especially for teachers of younger students. It contains twenty-four shorter, mostly arranged works which tend to be a bit easier in difficulty than the pieces in Solos for the Horn Player. However there is still plenty of great musical material to keep even the most talented younger students interested.
Contents: Folksong Suite (Traditional); “No More, I have Heard Everything,” from Scene with Rondo and Orchestra, K. 490 (W.A. Mozart); Horn Quintet in E-flat, K. 407, Second Movement (W.A. Mozart); Air from Rosamunde (Schubert); “The Picture of a Rose” (J.F. Reichardt); “A Favorite Place” (Mendelssohn); Love Song (Mendelssohn); Andante Espressivo, from Piano Sonata, Op. 109 (Beethoven); “Marmotte” (Beethoven); “Farewell Song to Vienna’s Citizens at the Departure of the Viennese Volunteers” (Beethoven); “The Heavens are Telling” (Beethoven); “Ich Liebe Dich” (Beethoven); German Dance (Beethoven); Theme and March (Beethoven); Brazilian Set (Louis Gordon); Sweet Reverie (Tchaikovsky); Song of April (Bizet); “I Hear as in a Dream” (Bizet); Romance (Scriabin); Misty Silvery Moon (Bellini); Juliet’s Song (Bellini); The Song of Khivria (Mussorgsky); Bessie Bobtail (Barber); Song (Edward MacDowell)
The Boosey & Hawkes Horn Anthology, Boosey & Hawkes, 2009. I just recently picked up this collection because it had a number of interesting looking pieces that I was not really that familiar with, and also because it was relatively inexpensive. Two works in particular I have heard of but never really worked on are the horn concertos by Benjamin Lees and Othmar Schoeck. The Schoeck was especially worth looking at because it often appears on solo competition lists. A few of the pieces are arrangements from the standard 20th-century repertoire, and the rest are a mix of standard and lesser known original solos. The difficulty level is in general intermediate to advanced.
Contents: Sonata, Op. 17 (Beethoven); Elegy for Mippy I (Bernstein); Psalm 23, from Chichester Psalms (Bernstein/arr. Elliot); A Simple Song, from Mass (Bernstein/arr. Elliot); Billy and his Sweetheart, from Billy the Kid (Copland/arr. Hilliard); “The Little Horses” and “Zion’s Walls,” from Old American Songs, Set 2 (Copland/arr. Hilliard); Concerto for French Horn and Orchestra (Benjamin Lees); Concerto No. 4 for Horn and Orchestra, K. 495 (Mozart/arr. W. Salomon); Andante (Richard Strauss); Concerto No. 2 in E-flat, First Movement (Richard Strauss/arr. Perry); Concerto for Horn and String Orchestra, Op. 65 (Othmar Schoeck); Hunter’s Moon (Gilbert Vinter)
Twenty Encore and Recital Pieces, arranged by Daniel Kelley. As noted in the title, this collection is great for finding shorter pieces to close either or both halves of a recital, as well as providing a chance to play some famous melodies. The difficulty level is intermediate, although many of the pieces could be quite challenging in terms of getting the phrasing and musicality right.
Contents: Air from Suite No. 3 in D major (J.S. Bach); Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 39, No. 15 (Brahms); Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2 (Chopin); Claire de Lune (Debussy); Humoresque, Op. 10, No. 7 (Dvorak); Tambourin (Gossec); Waltz from Faust (Gounod); Rag-Time Dance (Joplin); Le Basque (Marais); Rondeau (Mouret); O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi (Puccini); Rondeau (Purcell); Piano Concerto No. 3 – Theme from 1st movement (Rachmaninov); Menuet from Le Tombeau de Couperin (Ravel); Pavane pour une Infante Defunte (Ravel); Gymnopedie No. 1 (Satie); Adagio from Octet in F Major (Schubert); Serenade from Schwanengesang No. 4 (Schubert); Serenata from Pulcinella (Stravinsky); Adagio from Concerto Grosso in D Minor, Op. 33, No. 11 (Vivaldi)
The G. Schirmer Instrumental Library, G. Schirmer, 2009. The last in my short list of recommended solo collections, this publication is available in three volumes, Easy to Intermediate (14 pieces), Intermediate (12 pieces), and Intermediate to Advanced (9 pieces). Check out the links above for a list of the contents. One of the selling points for these collections is an included CD containing full performances as well as performances of just the piano accompaniment. I was very interested in this collection because it features two fabulous musicians I worked with quite a bit in graduate school, Bernhard Scully on horn, and Vincent Fuh on piano. The players sound terrific on all of the recordings, and at around $20 per volume these publications are an economical way to stock up on a good bit of the standard solo repertoire. Each volume also includes brief biographical information on the composers and historical background on the pieces.